Two of the heavyweight division’s all-time greats will finally meet.
On Monday, officials announced that the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix opening round matchup between Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir will take place at Bellator 196 on April 28 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. The event will air live on the Paramount Network.
This is the third scheduled bout in the tournament to crown a new Bellator heavyweight champion. Chael Sonnen kicked off the opening round with a unanimous decision win over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 192 this past Saturday, while a rematch between Matt Mitrione and Roy Nelson has been scheduled for Bellator 194 on Feb. 16.
The remaining Grand Prix opening-round fight between light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal is expected to be booked for later this year.
Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) fell to Mitrione in his Bellator debut last June, losing by knockout in a 74-second slugfest. That snapped a five-fight winning streak for the 41-year-old Russian, who put together a 28-fight unbeaten run from 2001-2010 before losing three straight bouts to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, and Dan Henderson.
“The Last Emperor” retired in 2012 before returning three years later and recording back-to-back victories against Jaideep Singh and Fabio Maldonado.
A former UFC heavyweight titleholder Mir (18-11) has not fought since a KO loss to Mark Hunt in March 2016. Following that bout, Mir, 38, tested positive for banned substances, which resulted in him receiving a two-year suspension from the USADA. He has lost six of his last eight fights.